TULIP TREE Liriodendron tulipifera

TULIP TREE Liriodendron tulipifera

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Liriodendron tulipifera—known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar, whitewood, fiddletree, and yellow-poplar—is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood. It is native to eastern North America from Southern Ontario and Illinois eastward to southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and south to central Florida and Louisiana. The tulip tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It is one of the largest of the native trees of the eastern United States and can grow to more than 50 m (160 ft) in virgin cove forests of the Appalachian Mountains. In a rural setting they are more likely to reach 35m (110ft). It is fast-growing, without the common problems of weak wood strength and short lifespan often seen in fast-growing species. A tree just 15 years old may already reach 12 m (40 ft) in height with no branches within reach of humans standing on the ground.

April marks the start of the flowering period in the southern USA (except as noted below); trees at the northern limit of cultivation begin to flower in June. Trees grow best in deep well-drained loam which has thick dark topsoil. Most tulip trees have low tolerance of drought, although Florida natives (especially the east central ecotype) fare better than southeastern coastal plain or northern inland specimens.

Type: Hardy tree, native

Height: 35 m, 110 feet or more. Great tree due to little to no lower branches.

Location: Sun

Hardiness zones: 4-9

Seeds per pack: 5 large seeds

Germination: As with many hardy tree seeds, these seeds benefit from a period of moist cold to help them begin to grow. This is done by giving them a cold 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:

Obtain a planting container that has holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. Place the seeds just under the surface of your growing medium, and water. Place your container at room temperature for 2 weeks (they will not grow yet), and then place them in a refrigerator for 6 weeks. Once the cold period is completed, place the container back at room temperature for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period. Seedlings will sprout a few weeks, or occasionally several months, after the warming period. They require some patience, but are well worth the effort!

These seeds can also be planted in a cold frame outdoors in very early spring, or planted in winter if you live in a warm climate, while the temperatures are cold and fluctuating, as long as you are able to keep the soil consistently moist. They will still need several weeks to germinate. The Tulip tree will only germinate if it has had a long period of cold (minimum 6 weeks), followed by the warming period. Otherwise it will remain dormant.

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